College football bowl games are fun and good -- the more of them, the better.
There are too many college bowl games! Participation trophies! WUSSIFICATION of America!
Regardless of your feelings on whether or not too many exist, college football bowl games are here to stay en masse. They're massive ratings boons for networks, huge opportunities for #brands, and cool travel opportunities for fans. And while it's another instance of the college football cartel making millions off unpaid athletes, it is the closest these players will receive to some sort of extra compensation -- receiving a free vacation and buckets and buckets of free stuff from bowl sponsors. It's not great, but it's what we have, and it's better than nothing.
Personally, I love bowl games. I love all of them. There is not a better way to evade family around the holidays than by posting up in a dark basement with beer-in-hand and watching a MAC and C-USA team play in a game sponsored by a chicken-seller. Some people enjoy holiday shopping and Santa Claus. Some people enjoy a fight on a Monday afternoon in Miami between Memphis and mormons. You may be of the former. I am of the latter, and I will watch every dang one of them. Still, bowl season often presents a problem for me because I cheer for Indiana football -- and Indiana does not go to many bowl games.
These are things you know: Indiana has four games left -- two against top 16 teams at home, two against possibly inferior opponents on the road. They need two wins to gain "bowl eligibility" at 6-6. They might get there. They might not. I don't know.
But, wait, would one win be enough to possibly get Indiana to a bowl game?
Actually, yeah, maybe. Indiana, in theory, could possibly clinch a trip to a bowl game with a win over Iowa on Saturday. Here's how.
62.5% percent of all FBS teams need to get to 6 wins to fill all bowls. It's unlikely to happen.
That's 80 teams. With four weeks left in the season, here's how many bowl eligible teams each conference has:
|Conference||# of 6 win teams|
That's 42 teams. We're halfway there. That means 38 eligible teams that are not already at 6 wins have to get there over the next four games. So, let's look at how many teams are on the verge of bowl eligibility with 4 or 5 wins.
|Conference||# of 4/5 win teams|
That's exactly 40 teams that have 4-5 wins that would need to squeeze out one or two wins out of their final 3 or 4 games. If one team fail to make that mark off this list, then we'd need a team that's won three or less games in the first two thirds of the season to equal that total or better it in the final third. That's unlikely. Consider this, too: four teams on this list (UConn, East Carolina, Virginia Tech, Florida International) already sit at 4-5 with three games left.
Schedule's don't help many of those teams that need those extra wins, too. 4-win Minnesota, for example, would need two wins from the lot of Ohio State, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. 4-win Illinois needs two from Purdue, Ohio State, Minnesota, and Northwestern. 4-win Missouri needs two from Mississippi State, BYU, Tennessee, and Arkansas. 4-win Arkansas needs two from Ole Miss, LSU, Mississippi State, and Missouri. 4-win Louisville needs two from Syracuse, Virginia, Pitt, and Kentucky. Kentucky needs two from Georgia, Vanderbilt, Charlotte, and Louisville. Arizona State needs two from 5-3 Washington State, 4-4 Washington, 5-4 Arizona, and 5-3 California. Indiana has one of the easier dang roads to six wins -- because all of these almost-bowl eligible teams still have to play each other.
Bottom line: We're already well-behind the eight-ball in getting to 80 eligible 6-win teams, and it's probably not happening.
Okay, so what happens if we don't have 80 .500 teams?
The NCAA has laid out a selection process for filling remaining bowls, which would proceed as follows:
- Teams finishing with a 6-6 record with one win over a FCS team that would not normally count as a win for bowling purposes because they do not meet scholarship criteria. This includes schools from the Pioneer League, Ivy League, NEC, and Patriot League, such as Butler. It wouldn't apply to any team this season.
- 6-6 teams with wins over two FCS schools. Boston College & North Carolina. Carolina already has 7 wins -- BC would need to win out for this provision to apply.
- 6-7 teams with loss 7 coming in the conference championship game. Again, probably not happening barring something crazy in the Mountain West. Which is possible, but.
- 6-7 teams that play a 13-game schedule, due to the Hawaii exception. Colorado lost a road non-conference game to start the year at Hawaii -- and the NCAA allows for an extra home game to offset the cost of the trip. If they're able to win two of their final four, they'll finish 6-7 and likely be bowl-eligible.
- Bowl-eligible teams that are in year two of their FCS-FBS transition period. Charlotte's not getting to six wins. Move on.
- 5-7 teams, in order of APR, are available to fill remaining bowl slots. Teams playing two FCS teams (Boston College) are not eligible to fill bowls as 5-7 teams, no matter their APR score.
Non-Bowl-Eligible FBS Teams with More Than Two Wins, Ranked By APR Score
|San Jose State||975||4-4|
Okay, what would happen in that scenario -- if these four teams were tied atop the APR rankings of eligible 5-7 teams with only one spot available?
Bottom line: Indiana probably has a pretty good chance to make a bowl game at 5-7.
But let's just hope FBS is able to provide 80 .500-or-better teams, for the sake of all our sanity.